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Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Preparing Your Vehicle for Summer Heat
Spring is here, and now is the time to get your car ready for the dog days of summer.
Open the hood and examine the hoses and belts for wear and for cracks and chips in the rubber. Replace them if there are signs of wear. When you squeeze the hoses, they should give a little, but they shouldn’t be too hard or too soft. You should be able to push down on the belts and move them about a half an inch—more or less than that means they need to be adjusted or replaced.
Check your fluid levels and quality. Make sure the antifreeze/coolant level is sufficient. Check the oil and washer fluid, if they are well below where they should be, have your mechanic look into it.
Take a minute to check the quality of your air-conditioning system. Start the engine and click on the air; if cool air comes out relatively quickly, it is working fine.
You want to take a few special precautions if you are planning a long trip.
Begin by replacing the small temporary spare tire with a full-size spare tire. Most small spares cannot be driven further than 50 miles or at normal freeway speeds. You don’t need to buy a new tire for this purpose; a used one is fine. Inspect it closely before you buy, making sure it has plenty of tread depth and has worn evenly.
Next, change your oil. Your oil will be stressed with the amount of driving you will be doing on hot roads in a short time span. It's best to have fresh oil before you start.
Make sure you keep a supply of replacement fluids in your vehicle in case levels drop from the extreme use of your engine. Coolant and engine oil are the most important to have with you, as these are the ones you are likely to run low on in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest service station.
Finally, it's a good idea to have your vehicle inspected and maintained by a certified automotive mechanic before departing on your trip. Your mechanic will have the necessary equipment to detect significant problems your eyes and fingers cannot.
Volunteer for a Safe Driver Online Course. You will learn about general safe driving techniques, plus Florida-specific road rules and regulations including speed limits and seat belt laws.